Brad Marchand’s 5-on-3 power play game-winner with 31 seconds left in OT gave the Bruins an exciting 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars in yet another game in which all of the goal-scoring came from the top line. In their last four games, the Bruins have scored exactly one goal at even strength and just five goals in total.
The Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak line has been responsible for all five and 24 of the 39 goals the Bs have tallied this season; it’s also tallied nine of the team’s 13 power play goals (4 for last 15). Take away Zdeno Chara’s three goals and Charlie McAvoy’s solo tally and that means the rest of the Bruins forwards have contributed a paltry 11 goals in 14 games. That’s not ideal for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations.
Danton Heinen has struggled to get on track and has just three helpers to show for his efforts. David Backes, fresh off yet another concussion, has zero points in nine games. Hard-nosed forward Noel Acciari has done what’s been asked of him but has yet to tally a point in 14 games. Sean Kuraly, Chris Wagner, Anders Bjork, and Ryan Donato (sent to Providence to work on his game) each have a solo tally. David Krejci and Joakim Nordstrom each have a pair. Jake DeBrusk has three goals but has tallied just one in the last nine game as he tries to find some consistency in his game.
This isn’t a case of proven veteran scorers just collectively having a slump. The team is relying on, perhaps too much, young kids who are likely struggling with confidence and grinder/energy guys to provide secondary scoring and the results haven’t been good thus far. It’s clear the Bruins need to acquire a top-six forward to complement Krejci and provide the offense necessary from a second line for team success. The question for the front office isn’t “do we seek outside help via a trade?” but “how soon do we seek it?”.
Despite the dearth of offense, there are still only three teams with more points than the Bruins, who have accrued 18 points in 14 games (8-4-2). If there’s a silver lining about the scoring, it’s the torrid 29.5% power play success rate. Exactly one-third of the team’s goals have come with the man advantage (13 of 39). Four of Pasta’s NHL-leading 12 goals have come on the PP including this snipe last night.
But paltry even-strength scoring is not a model for success over an 82 game season and there’s a major reason why they’re near the top of the league so far—Jaroslav Halak. Ostensibly signed to be Tuukka Rask’s back-up, Halak deservedly has the same number of starts as Rask (seven) and has been the significantly better netminder thus far this season. Halak currently leads the league with a minuscule 1.45 GAA, an eye-popping .952 SP, and is tied for the lead with two shutouts.
And if Rask keeps having awful starts and giving up dogshit goals like this one
then Bruce Cassidy will keep giving starts to Halak. That goal could’ve been a real back-breaker if 63-37-88 didn’t bail him out yet again. Rask had a similarly shitty start last year before rounding into form. But he’s looked out to lunch in the first period in a handful of games this season. Simply, Rask needs to be much better and have his head in the game right from the jump if he wants to be the go-to guy.
As long as the team is stringing wins together, there’s no urgency to pull the trigger on a deal to improve the offense. But if the secondary scoring remains stagnant, then the team will be better off being aggressive and grabbing their man, whoever he may be, well ahead of the deadline rather than waiting too long and risk losing him elsewhere.
The Bs continue their homestand Thursday when the vastly improved Vancouver Canucks come to town with rookie sensation Elias Pettersson and sophomore stud Brock Boeser.